56 Up Reviews
Through movie critic Roger Ebert, who got a whole new wave of fans after his documentary Life Itself, which I admit is how I came to know about this film, that moment in Life Itself- in his hospital bed in that film he talks about the film as he talks to someone while hold the disc in his hand, since I kept my eye out for it and not surprisingly it was a brilliant presentation of not necessarily the whole spectrum of lives or emotions or mental psyche of its stars whos' lives are rolled out on screen one by one from a black and white film as innocent kids to who they have become today.
There's no way I can remember all the peoples life stories, especially since this is the first time seeing them or being tolled there stories in one quick but holding flow, but what I will do is tell one of the many peoples' live's that I found very interesting. One of the kids (Neil Hughs) goes through life almost completely homeless, getting a place to stay here and there- but the most bewildering part is the guy seems although a little bonkers, he also seemed over-whelming intellectual, at least with his words as scenes of his talks with camera.
From a child in school to a young adult in a dirty, pealing wallpaper apartment and years later in a baron stretch of country obviously hitchhiking, looking rather warn out. He was admitted but he felt the treatment was not moving fast enough and felt going it on his own would be a faster treatment to his weird nature, although not at all a proper medically correct second option, he is still well spoken for a jobless guy who wants to be in politics, who really waste it away eventually when the film catches up with him he is in small community as a councilor for the towns political committee, still living kinda'rough but found a sustainable solace in the friendship in the people, but clearly still not at peace- with no partner nor a real purpose or job.
An amazingly mind changing view as a fairly under-accomplished 17 year old, this films people, not necessarily there full felling or views are let out through the camera but enough to relate or complex your own views on life, I felt I needed to get off my ass while watching with these people who do more then I, who also don't reach those goals as old age catch's up with them, yet some or most find something in the the lifestyle they live,.. not at inner-peace like a monk but content enough.
They are fine almost all with there current circumstances.
An admiral documentary with an even more admiral goal to achieve- by capturing these peoples' beings every 7 years, can't wait for the next one hopefully then I also will find something to reach as goal, or maybe this site will explode. In any case a life-documentary that question it's viewer more then the lives it shows us.
Through out this series, it seems virtually all of the participants say that they don't like being in the films. They probably accurately observe that the films only show a very short snap shot of their lives. The short film segments can not fully show who they really are. But, even these short, periodic views are instructive and revealing. I suspect there is a universality here that viewers can relate to.
The training and acculturation a child receives early in life does tend to stick with them. But, this series also shows the strong influence of individual temperament, values, energy, and interests. We might also infer that individual native intelligence plays a role in what path an individual chooses. Also, we see the effect of poor health, accidents, and mental/emotional health. These factors are unpredictable.
Some characters from both social groups show some awkwardness in dealing with the opposite sex. This innate difficulty of each individual plays itself out in a similar manner across the economic spectrum.
Several of the less economically advantaged subjects have built very satisfying and happy lives for themselves. This was not surprising. But, it is good to have this fact documented by this film series. An advanced academic education is not central to living a happy life.
The individuals who appear to be emotionally healthy also seem to be the best adjusted to the difficulties of life. Consequently, these people are the most contented and happy with their lives.
A farmer's son goes on to academic research and instruction. He has two brothers who remain in the local area. One is deaf. He comments that a person said he was surprised at his intelligence associated with his accent. That illustrates the limited comprehension some people have about members of another social group. This same man divorces an attractive, but guarded woman, who refuses to participate in the series after seeing herself on film. He is one of the most open/accessible characters. He later marries another attractive woman who appears to be as open and well adjusted as himself. I think this illustrates the value of an emotionally healthy spouse or significant other.
The awkwardness of juveniles at ages 14, 21, and somewhat less at age 28 is documented. This common characteristic of young people is well known across cultures and time. But, some people never manage to get past this stage of social development.
The one character who clearly struggles with his emotional health is inspiring. He appears happy and well adjusted as a young boy. Later, he seems clearly emotionally unstable. He keeps plugging away, moving forward. By his self reporting, he seems to have lived his life essentially alone. This, by itself, can be difficult. But, the man keeps putting one foot ahead of another. He manages to find satisfying activities for his life. He is an intelligent man. And, his intellect seems to aid his struggles to find some meaning in his life.
One upper class character marries a woman without an advanced education. They raise some children and seem very well suited to one another. We can only guess what makes this relationship work. But, again, they both seem to be emotionally healthy. This fact seems critical.
In 56 Up, we note that many of these British subjects have become obese. Balanced weight or over-weight seems to be a cultural norm in some countries. Obesity is still rare in Asian countries and France. This is somewhat difficult to understand. Everyone knows the multiple dangers of obesity. But, on the other hand, everyone also knows the dangers of smoking, illegal schedule one drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption. And still, many people continue to chase the questionable pleasures of the above. Since this behavior is not rational; we can only chalk it up to culture and temperament. No matter the health effects, some people are going to do what they want to do.
And finally, we see importance of the well-known adages of good health and sufficient income. If a person is relatively healthy, and has enough income, there is a base upon which to build and live a satisfying life.